Top 10 Reasons Meetings Fail: How Managers Can Avoid Them

February 21, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Have you ever been in a meeting that seemed like a waste of time? Who hasn’t? How did you feel? Did the meeting bring out the best in your effort? Probably not. As a manager we need to be mindful of this. Managers must communicate powerfully and positively in any meeting they lead. By doing so, leaders will propel their teams to new heights in performance achievement.

Eleven million meetings a day take place in the US. Imagine worldwide? According to research half of these meetings are a waste of time. Why? Many managers don’t know how to conduct a high-powered meeting. They make the same mistakes day in and day out and never take the time to learn how to be more effective.

If you hold better meetings you will:

  • Gain higher morale from your team
  • Receive invaluable input from your team
  • Make more effective decisions
  • Motivate your team to achieve higher performance
  • Become noticed by others in your company

Meetings fail for many reasons but here are the top ten. Where do you need to improve?

  1. No agenda – Create an agenda ahead of time and communicate with your team. Be clear on your purpose and what you hope to accomplish.
  2. Poor agenda – Some managers who do have agendas try to rewrite world history during the meeting. You have to focus. There is a difference between a training meeting or department meeting or a quality improvement meeting.
  3. Lack of participation – Managers need to learn facilitation skills to engage their teams in the meeting. This means learning the dynamics of group process, how to handle a disruptive person, participative methods, and how to handle conflict.
  4. Doesn’t start on time – This is a common occurrence in meetings today. Let your team know upfront that you will start on time. When someone comes late, acknowledge it and remind them of your expectations. However, YOU start on time.
  5. Doesn’t end on time – Make a commitment to a certain time-frame and stick to it. If you don’t accomplish everything get permission from the team for more time or set another meeting time.
  6. No record – Keep a record of what happens in the meeting. Ask someone to be a recorder and take minutes. Share the minutes through an email as follow-up.
  7. A few people dominate – A group dynamic is that a few people will often dominate a meeting because they like to talk. Use group discussions methodology to get all people involved. For example, if you ask a question call on different people for input or do a round robin where participants take turns giving their opinions.
  8. Poor facilitation skills – It takes training and practice to run an effective meeting. Key facilitation skills include: listening, dealing with problems, giving feedback, designing group input, problem-solving, keeping the meeting on task, and creating consensus.
  9. No Conflict Resolution – Conflict isn’t bad. It just means people have differences in opinion. A meeting without conflict is one without innovation. Leader’s must create openness and learn how to constructively deal with conflict.
  10. No summary at the end – Near the end of every meeting you need to recap key points, what was agreed to and the next step responsibilities. When you do this you reaffirm the meetings outcomes and hold everyone accountable for results.

Consider these points and improve where you need to. Do more study and ask for help from a coach. Avoid the mistakes above and you will indeed conduct more successful meetings. Your team will appreciate and so will your company.

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Rick Conlow is CEO with WCW Partners, a management consulting and training firm. Rick has helped organizations increase sales 218%, improve repeat and referral business by 20%, increase customer retention to 99%, reduce complaints by 60% and achieve 34 quality awards. You can reach Rick at: or 888-313-0514.

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